Sadly, Durham has nothing like the amount of live folk scene that Northumberland supports. The Birtley Folk Club was one of the northeast’s most long-lived folk clubs, but it closed in 2014. What remains? Well:


The Brecon Folk Club has moved from time to time – not long ago, it was in Seaham – but now it is – if it exists at all – back where it started at the Smith’s Arms at Castle Dene. Check out the website, though, and no events are listed. There MAY be regular Monday evening sessions at 8.00 p.m., but these are described as “singalongs” – anyone there can start to sing. Sociable, but not exactly a folk club. The “club” indicates “occasional visiting guest performers” but none have been seen for a long time and none are expected any time soon.


In theory, there’s a Darlington Folk Club; in theory, it meets every Thursday at The Copper Beech on Neasham Road; in practice, there’s nothing going on. Darlington has a Culture Festival and the Folk Club springs into action for that; it then subsides once more into inactivity.

Durham CityDurham

One might expect a university town to have a thriving folk scene; not so. Durham City Folk Club meets on Thursday evenings at 8.00 in the Tap and Spile at Framwellgate Moor. It’s a “singers’ club”; turn up and sing. They’ll be polite, they’ll applaud, and the beer is better than average.

Newton Aycliffe

The Iron Horse Folk Club meets on Monday evenings at 8.30 at The Iron Horse. Or so it says; there aren’t actually any events planned for the foreseeable future.


The Beamish Mary Inn, which is actually in No Place just down the hill from Stanley on the Chester-le-Street road (yes, Cynthia, there really is a place called No Place; Uncle Sir Bobby Robson, footballer and football manager extraordinaire, was brought up there) supposedly has Folk and Acoustic nights, but “infrequent” would be the most polite description.

Sad. Fortunately, Durham folk fans aren’t far from the Tyne; once they cross it going north, the prospects improve.